It seems that television legend, Larry King, who reportedly left a $50Million estate when he died last month, handwrote his own will.
Q. LK was survived by 3 children and his estranged 7th wife. Who stands to inherit this fortune?
A. The 2019 handwritten will sought to leave everything, in equal shares to King’s children. It was written right after King filed for divorce from his seventh wife, Shawn Southwick.
Q. Even though the will leaves King’s surviving spouse out, can she make a claim against the estate?
A. Probably, yes. Because the divorce was not finalized, Shawn Southwick is the legal surviving spouse. As such, all 50 states prevent complete disinheritance, unless such rights were waived by way of a valid Pre or Post-Nuptial agreement.
Q. Is a handwritten will valid?
A. The answer is, ‘in theory- yes’. The practical upshot, however, is that a handwritten will is subject to a much greater degree of scrutiny, to ensure that the person making it was of sound mind and not under duress. This will likely take many months. This is a DIY example of ‘penny wise and pound foolish!
Q. When should people update their Wills?
A. When we have a major life change. Heath Ledger, for example, had a will but failed to update it after having a child. His will left everything to his parents and sisters.
Q. Only 50% of American adults have wills. Who gets our stuff without a Legal plan in place?
Chadwick Boseman is one of the latest in a long line of celebrities to have died without a will. When we don’t have a will, our state of residence has a formula to distribute assets. The problem is, that it may not be what the person would have wanted. Simone Ledward, who Boseman married a few months before his untimely death, will receive everything by virtue of state law. Did the actor wish to leave anything to his surviving parents? We will never know.
Prince died in 2016 without a will. The estate has since been caught up in battles between would-be beneficiaries and the IRS. Tens of millions have reportedly been spent, thereby resulting in less for the ultimate heirs.
Can someone write their own will? If you are on a gameshow, the answer is, yes.
However, in the real world, I advise against it. Aretha Franklin’s estate has still not been finalized more than two years after her death. Her handwritten will (discovered under a couch cushion) with numerous cross-outs is far from clear.
What are some mistakes to avoid when making a will?:
Failing to name a Guardian for minor children. Without this, a Judge will decide who raises the children!
Leaving assets directly to youngsters. Without a protective trust. A Court can take control of the assets.
The bottom line is that we should all have a will, and review it after major life events, such as birth, marriage, divorce and contemplated divorce!